Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kwaito: South African Hip Hop [Sterns/Earthworks, 2000]
Where the Jo'burg disco of late apartheid was not-for-export schlock, this lowbrow party fodder, more "Jack Your Body" than "Bring the Noise," sounds like independence music. I'm not sure what makes it go. The southern African pulse, so much heavier on the four-on-the-floor than the equatorial polyrhythm? The entrepreneurial thrill of artist-owned labels? Township kids feeling like their own people? Dumb luck? All I know is that this compilation moves like one of those flukey dance albums that makes you keep on loving the same trick-electro riff plus raggaqanga bass plus southern African chant and chorus. Is it conscious, as they say? A little, sometimes--Arthur's "Kaffir" sure puts the kibosh on the K-word. Note, however, that the one that preaches "Together we are one under the sun" is entitled "Make Em Bounce." A-